Ask the Doctor: Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome – Runner’s Knee

While not an avid runner I am training for a 15K. Sundays are my “long runs” in the training schedule and I noticed a lot of pain in my knee after my 7 mile run yesterday. The pain persisted through the night, as well as a grinding/popping noise when bending. It feels much better after a day or two, and I am able to run by the 3rd day. Are there stretches or braces that I can wear to help with the pain or prevent any serious injury?

Dr. Joshua Blomgren:

Dr. BlomgrenFirst of all, kudos for even taking on the task of running a 15K!!! There are a few common running injuries that lead to pain in and around the knee. From your description it sounds like the “knee-cap” or patellofemoral joint may be the culprit. Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome is an extremely common knee problem in runners, so much so that it is affectionately known as Runners Knee. The primary cause of pain and problems with this syndrome is poor tracking of the patella/knee cap. The tracking may be overall good or OK, but as people progress in mileage and fatigue sets in a persons form falls apart and this is when the poor tracking occurs.

Treatment Options:

Typically, maintaining proper flexibility of the hamstring helps. The other thing that helps is exercises to strengthen the gluteus medius muscles. Weakness of these hip stabilizing muscles can affect knee alignment while running. There are braces out there that help, but I prefer my patients to strengthen and enhance the natural brace of their bodies. There are some very good exercises that can be found online or I can forward some of these to you. A course of physical therapy is always beneficial to the runner’s I see in the office.